A series of New York State Bar Association radio announcements-one on the importance of the right to counsel in criminal cases and the other on how voting makes a difference-hits airwaves across upstate New York this week.

State Bar Association President Seymour W. James, Jr. (The Legal Aid Society in New York City) narrates the spots that air through June 2. Each topic is recorded in 30- and 60-second versions.

The scripts for the four radio announcements are as follows:

Gideon/Right to Counsel: 60-seconds

I'm Seymour James, president of the New York State Bar Association.
 
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court case
Gideon versus Wainwright establishing that poor people have a constitutional right to a government-paid criminal defense attorney.
 
In 1961, Clarence Gideon was accused of breaking into a pool hall and stealing money. He maintained that he was innocent and asked the court to appoint a defense lawyer because he could not afford to hire one. The court refused, and Gideon was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison.
 
He appealed to the nation's highest court. The Supreme Court decided that a fair trial requires that the court appoint an attorney for any poor defendant charged with a serious crime. Gideon was provided a lawyer, and he was eventually found not guilty.

In the United States, all criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty. In 50 years we have made significant strides in protecting the rights of those who are accused but cannot afford counsel. We must continue to enhance these protections so that the promise of
Gideon versus Wainwright can be fully realized.
___

Gideon/Right to Counsel: 30-seconds

I'm Seymour James, president of the New York State Bar Association.
 
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court case
Gideon versus Wainwright establishing that poor people have a constitutional right to a government-paid criminal defense attorney to ensure a fair trial.
 
In 50 years we have made significant strides in protecting the rights of those who are accused but cannot afford counsel. We must continue to enhance these protections so that the promise of
Gideon versus Wainwright can be fully realized.
___

Voter Participation: 60-seconds

I'm Seymour James, president of the New York State Bar Association.
 
In the United States, voting is one of our most fundamental rights. Since our nation's founding, women, people of color, Native Americans and the poor have all had to fight for the right to vote.
 
But today, only about half of eligible voters participate in most elections, and New York state ranks among the lowest in the nation for voter turnout.
 
Voting is a right that we cannot take for granted. It's also an important responsibility of every citizen in our democratic society.
 
Our elected officials at the local, state and federal levels make decisions that can have an enormous impact-whether they are school board decisions that affect our kids' education or national policies with global consequences.
 
Our leaders need to know that we are paying attention and that they will hear from us at the ballot box.
 
If you haven't registered to vote, please consider doing so, because your vote can make a difference.
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Voter Participation: 30-seconds

I'm Seymour James, president of the New York State Bar Association.
 
Voting is one of our most fundamental rights. Since our nation's founding, women, people of color, Native Americans and the poor have all had to fight for the right to vote.
 
It is important that our representatives know that we are paying attention and that they will hear from us at the ballot box.
 
If you haven't registered to vote, please consider doing so, because your vote can make a difference.
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The NCSA (Non-Commercial Sustaining Announcements) spots were produced and distributed in coordination with the New York State Broadcasters Association. They are part of an ongoing radio campaign to educate the public about legal issues that affect the lives of New Yorkers.

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Contact: Brandon J. Vogel
Media Writer
bvogel@nysba.org
518/487-5535